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Nutrition extends to schools

Valentine’s Day has passed, and like most holidays is celebrated by our children with candy, chocolate and sweets.

Valentine’s Day has passed, and like most holidays is celebrated by our children with candy, chocolate and sweets.

Many parents these days are concerned about the frequency their children receive certain types of foods, especially at school, where the decision is out of their control. Hot dog and pizza days, theme days, birthdays and holiday celebrations occur enough that our children are exposed to “treats” on a regular basis.

Despite the good intention of these events, some parents feel disempowered in making decisions concerning their child’s diet. They do not want to be a nuisance or to have their children feel excluded, but also want to limit exposure to certain foods. One problem is that parents have varying views on which and how much certain foods should be in our children’s diets. As a culture we are slowly evolving our view on the health implications of too much sugar, and it will take time to change our habits. It is tricky to find a healthy balance between celebration and excess.

In 2005, the provincial government responded to concerns about food served at schools by publishing Guidelines for Food and Beverage Sales in BC Schools.

This document outlines what kinds of food and beverages can be sold to students in all school locations and events. Unfortunately, there is no one regulating implementation of these guidelines and adhering to them is, at this point, voluntary.

Most schools are in various stages of implementing their own nutrition policies. These could dictate the types of food sold on site (like school lunch programs), the types of foods sold at fundraising events and the types of foods kids have access to throughout the day and at special events. If this is an issue that concerns you, here are some things to do:

• Get involved in the PAC, and consider advocating for a nutrition policy at your school, if one does not already exist.

• If you are sending food for a classroom celebration, consider healthier options. Most children would be just as happy with a fruit tray or crackers and cheese as they would be with cake.

• At your own home, de-emphasize the importance of certain foods, and focus more on special activities surrounding the celebration such as carving a pumpkin, decorating the house or doing a fun activity as a family.

Cake, cookies and pizza can be part of a healthy diet, however, school is not necessarily where these foods should be promoted and consumed.